Croatia Through the Eyes of a Digital Nomad: Croatia Courts the Global Workforce

Total Croatia News

All photos @Cydnie Burkhardt
Dubrovnik is one of the world's most stunning cultural destinations, famously known as the “Pearl of the Adriatic.”
Dubrovnik is one of the world's most stunning cultural destinations, famously known as the “Pearl of the Adriatic.”

October 21, 2020 – Continuing our series, Croatia Through the Eyes of a Digital Nomad, Cyndie Burkhardt takes a behind the scenes look at the recent Digital Nomads for Dubrovnik conference. 

Hyping its forthcoming new visa, Croatia’s first conference for digital nomads is fittingly brought to life by a truly international team who live and breathe the lifestyle

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(Stradun is the main pedestrian street that runs through Dubrovnik’s Old Town.)

When I left home over a year ago to travel the world and pursue a project covering 12 countries in 12 months, I never considered myself a digital nomad. True, I sold all my things, gave up my apartment, left family and friends, and cut ties to become location independent. The move signified forward momentum, growth, freedom, adventure, and greater connection to people everywhere. World explorer! Cultural experiences! Global friendships! Living my best life! It was well thought out and grand. “Digital nomad” somehow implied restlessness, irresponsibility, immaturity, homelessness, and a certain grunge existence. The label surely didn’t apply to me.

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(Lovrjenac is a limestone fortress that sits just outside Dubrovnik’s city walls and overlooks the sea.)

Working while traveling

Then I started traveling, working abroad, and meeting people doing different versions of my hustle. I love stories about why people travel and what they get from it. Some of the more intriguing ones involve leaving home and never going back, splitting time between locations, or simply continuing to move. These bold moves have as many twists and turns as the sea has waves, and often dreams, hard work, love, and opportunity are the driving factors. I’ve noticed that people who figure out a lifestyle around travel and work have a certain mindset. It’s global, inquisitive, open, resourceful, passionate, and more tolerant.

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(Testing the speaker set up and camera angles before the conference.)

Who are digital nomads?

While the pandemic caused travel shutdowns and forced many workers into remote status, there’s been plenty of time to reevaluate my own life and work here in my (unexpected) new home country. What if all the people I’ve been talking to are in fact digital nomads? What if they work remotely and simply like to travel, experience different cultures and meet local people, are interested in engaging with broader communities, and want to give back? Hang on a minute, they’re just like me. My outdated stereotype was shattered. In fact, the world is embracing the positive concept of digital nomads and it’s great.

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(Preparing for the first day’s agenda and panel discussions.)

Croatia’s first digital nomad conference

A marvelous opportunity is rising from the pandemic. Specifically, a handful of countries instated a digital nomad visa which allows remote workers to apply for a 1-year residency to live and work in the country. Croatia has been at the forefront and its digital nomad visa is expected to be available in early 2021.

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(Reviewing the conference program and final details.)

In anticipation, Croatia’s first digital nomad conference, called “Dubrovnik for Digital Nomads,” kicked off European Freelancers Week (#EFWeek2020, October 16-25) in that beautiful Dalmatian city. I had the good fortune to be on the frontlines and I worked alongside an international event team that was nothing short of rock star. To clarify, the team worked hard but we were non-paid volunteers who put together a robust two-day program that was both live and virtual.

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(The digital nomad conference is held at the Lazareti..)

An international team

Our team hails from Australia, Chile, Croatia, New Zealand, the UK, and the USA. All of us are in Croatia with different circumstances and reasons but we share something in common—our love for the digital nomad lifestyle and everything this beautiful country has to offer. Beyond the professional skills we brought to Dubrovnik, a range of personal pursuits reveals a depth of talent among this team that is only surpassed by unending wit.

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(Attendees practice social distance safety.)

One of the girls wants to start a vineyard in Chile. Another one spent a bunch of years in Cambodia and makes gorgeous wrap dresses, while another develops student education programs at the university and collaborates with international campuses. One of the guys runs a sick sailing business (in a good way) where remote workers can get the job done at sea, on a luxury yacht, with high speed internet. I want that job! Other pursuits include social enterprise work, building audio visual systems, UX coding, running coworking spaces, and operating one of Croatia’s top online news media companies. Wow. If these are the types of people Croatia is courting, I’m in excellent company.

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(Attendees receive a face mask with their program.}

2021’s hottest global travelers

The overriding feeling among the event team, as with the conference organizers, attendees, sponsors, and partners, is optimism for the new visa and the benefits that digital nomads can bring to communities and countries. With good understanding of who they are and reliable structures to support these people’s true needs, the lifestyle will blossom. Look for me out there waving my digital nomad flag!

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(Well-designed co-working spaces keep digital nomads efficient. This one at the Lazareti is free during Freelancer’s Week.)

Learn more about the conference and new visa at TCN’s Digital Nomads channel. 

Story and photographs ©2020, Cyndie Burkhardt.

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(A bench outside the co-working space doubles as a WiFi enabled device to ensure fast internet speed around the premises.)

You can read more of Cyndie’s nomad journey in her column, Croatia Through the Eyes of a Digital Nomad.

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(Croatia’s natural resources include abundant fresh fruit, which surprise and delight visitors and locals alike.)


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